Diana Jue-Rajasingh

A Taste of Bureaucracy: The Foreigners Regional Registration Office

Posted in Fulbright, India, Traveling by Diana on August 22, 2012


I recently registered at Bangalore’s Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in Indiranagar. Almost every foreigner who remains in India for more than six months must register with the FRRO, and it is one of the more difficult/stressful/annoying experiences had by foreigners in India.

About two years back, I had registered with a different visa in Chennai. That was a hectic — the process was disorganized, I didn’t have the correct papers during my first visit, and I had to return to the FRRO after a few days to physically pick up my registration. I was ready for the worst in Bangalore, which is also supposed to be a nightmare.

The rules and regulations had changed since my 2010 experience, and I had been collecting tidbits of information from foreigners I knew. For example, another Fulbrighter alerted us about the online pre-registration form that we had to fill in and print out. A Brit that I met in church on Sunday said to arrive early in the morning, before the FRRO even opens, to ensure that I finish with half a day to spare. And then I heard that our affiliation letters should be written on our research adviser’s letterhead, not the general affiliate institute’s.

Check, check, check. And I was still nervous, since my time period for registration was quickly ending. So the night before my visit to the FRRO, Steve had me visit his mom’s house for prayer. She reminded me that God is God over all things — even bureaucracy.

And that’s true! The registration process was surprisingly easy, especially when compared to the horror stories I had heard and the inconveniences I had experienced in Chennai. You just need to be good at following directions and waiting. This is kind of how the process went for me:

  1. Look up the stuff you need and get it. And get more than you actually need. Steve says that when it comes to bureaucracy, the thicker the stack, the better. He even gave me materials from our affiliation, just in case the desk workers were going to give me a hard time.
  2. Fill out an online pre-registration application form. Fill it in and print it out.
  3. Find the checklist page and print that out. Okay, I didn’t do this step because I didn’t even think if printing out the checklist. If you don’t have it, you can get it inside the FRRO. I only figured out that I needed it because everyone else in line had it.
  4. Arrive at the FRRO early. I got there an hour before the office opened. Actually, I’m not sure that I needed to do that, but it was kind of fun to talk with other foreigners. I met another American who is working for IBM and had spent time in Boston, as well. Connections are always fun, especially when they’re made while you’re feeling fearful/annoyed toward the same thing.
  5. Get in line and get a “token” (number) from the counter. I was number 24 for the day! The folks at the counter took my stack of papers and thumbed through them before giving me the number. They didn’t tell me to even get a checklist, although they should have.
  6. Put your papers in order, glue your photos to your application, and get a checklist if you haven’t done so yet. Me being me, I hadn’t done any of this stuff and ran around the office doing it. Fortunately, foreigners are pretty helpful to other foreigners.
  7. Wait til your number is called, get your papers checked once, then twice, then walk to the first floor (second floor in the States).
  8. Get your number checked (so many checks), and sit where you’re told to sit. You’re supposed to approach a certain window.
  9. See your number called at the window and sit down in the chair in front of it. A camera will be pointed at you, and it will take a picture for your registration sheet — an unflattering picture if you’re not careful. I, for one, was not careful.
  10. Hand your papers and passport over. Sit there and wait. I wasn’t asked any questions. About 10 minutes later, I was given a half-sheet of paper and told to return in 2.5 hours to pick up my registration.
  11. Have coffee/tea and chill for awhile. Indiranagar is close to great restaurants and coffee shops. I ended up at the Cafe Coffee Day Lounge.
  12. Return to the FRRO and pick up your registration. Go straight up to the first floor and back to the window where you dropped off your documents. You’ll get an awesome registration form!
  13. Say bye to the other foreigners you met in line that morning. And hopefully congratulate them, because y’all made it or are on the way there!

2 Responses

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  1. Hitu said, on February 1, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    On our recent 19 day trip to India, one senior passenger had bought with them their OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) booklet issued by the Government of India and her US Passport. She was detained at Mumbai Airport by the Immigration officers for not bringing a valid visa along with her OCI Booklet.
    The OCI booklet looks like a passport. Inside it had her picture, name and personal information that identified her along with numbers that I assume could have been crossed checked by Immigration officials. The OCI booklet actual does have a printed page that states the privileges of owning that booklet. One of them stated that the bearer can have multiple lifelong entries into India.
    The Immigration officer finally did release her by stamping her US passport with a 14 day tourist visa and told her to get an “Exit Stamp” from the police station in the city she was going to visit.
    After her tour, she went to the police station to get the exit stamp. She spent the better half of her day, but they did not stamp her passport. The solution was to go to the FRRO office in Mumbai. It’s located behind Xavier’s College and to ask for a Visa Extension.
    She managed to get a two day extension stamped onto her passport so that she could leave the country.
    The FRRO office required a written letter from the hotel confirming that she was staying there.
    $30 to $40 USD to pay the fee to extend the visa.
    Airline ticket with her name and date of departure proving that she was departing India.
    The FRRO office hours are strange. They open at 9:00 am but do close for lunch and close for the rest of day rather early. Around 3:00 p.m. or so. Go early. Be patient. Be prepared with your documents and that should get you an extension of your visa.

  2. ame said, on October 15, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Hi dear,
    I’m currently a student in India, and I have to apply for research visa since i got my phd admission. to apply at FRRO in india, can you please tell me what is exactly affiliation letter and what s the difference between this letter and guide student letter to supervise for phd? I really need help!!! no one in FRRO replies me correctly.

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